No rebuild mindset for CH West baseball

by Marc Narducci | May 13, 2021
No rebuild mindset for CH West baseball Cherry Hill West baseball coach Dan McMaster entered the season with a relatively inexperienced team, but it hasn’t shown on the field.

The Lions began the week 6-2 and have earned a berth in the prestigious Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, which matches 16 of the top teams in South Jersey.

West’s only two losses were to Shawnee, 8-1 and to Bishop Eustace, which is the top seed in the Diamond Classic, 1-0 in 10 innings.

"After eight games our only two losses were to Eustace, who we went toe to toe with and is one of the top teams in the state and Shawnee, who is a very good program,” McMaster said. “I don’t think many teams in the state could go 10 innings with Eustace.”

Even though there are some key senior leaders, this is a relatively inexperienced Cherry Hill West team.

“Our seniors were sophomores when we won South Jersey and that was basically a junior and senior team,” said McMaster.

McMaster was referring to the 2019 season when the Lions beat Triton, 6-3 in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.

Last year there was no high school baseball season due to COVID, so West didn’t enter this season with much varsity experience.

The offense has been led by two seniors, shortstop Nick Arcaroli and second baseman Dylan Atiya.

Both bring leadership from other sports, with Arcaroli a quarterback in football and Atiya a point guard in basketball.

Arcaroli, who bats second, began the week with 9 hits in his first 19 at-bats (.473).

“He just finds a way to get on base,” McMaster said of Arcaroli

Atiya, the leadoff hitter, was 8-for-23 (.347).

The pitching has also been solid. with seniors Blake Mitnick, Patrick Taney and Sean Davis carrying most of the load.

West’s tough schedule should help the Lions compete in the postseason. Once again Cherry Hill West is competing in South Jersey Group 3, one of the tougher sections in South Jersey, where Cape Atlantic teams Mainland and Ocean City figure to be among the main contenders.

In addition, there will be a rematch with Bishop Eustace on June 3 at Cherry Hill West. That is the second to last regular season game for the Lions and it could very well have conference implications.

Also by then, this relatively inexperienced Lions team should be battle tested and ready for the state tournament.

West is technically the defending SJ Group 3 champion and while the Lions won’t be favored, McMaster feels his team can be competitive with anybody and that mentality can enable a team to go a long way.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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